Rome (Jan. 28, 2004) -- A new audit of Parmalat Finanziaria SpA has reportedly revealed that the scandal-engulfed company’s debt was about $15.6 billion greater than it reported in the fall.

The audit by PricewaterhouseCoopers, released earlier this week, showed that net debt stood at roughly $17.9 billion for the nine-month period ended in September -- not the $2.3 billion (1.8 billion euros) that Parmalat reported previously, according to published reports.

According to the reports, Parmalat said its liquid assets at the end of 2002 and as of Sept. 30, 2003, were "negligible." At least some of the previously unreported debt is believed to be have been linked to huge infusions of cash from the dairy company to tourism businesses owned by the Tanzi family, the Associated Press reported.

Parmalat filed for bankruptcy last month, after it admitted that a bank account purported to hold $4.9 billion didn’t exist. Shortly thereafter, company founder Calisto Tanzi was arrested, followed by the arrest days later of seven others in connection with the alleged fraud, including two auditors of the former Italian arm of Grant Thornton.

-- WebCPA staff

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